West and its favorites among Ukrainian presidential nominees

Author : Kyrylo Ryzhanov

Source : 112 Ukraine

Angela Merkel's arrival in Kyiv has once again confirmed that Ukrainian presidential candidates are struggling for the Western support
09:10, 5 November 2018

Here is a situation. On the one hand, the United States and the EU are engaged in a trade conflict, and on the other hand, there are no favorites in the Ukrainian elections. Not only the “collective West,” but the majority of separate Western groups might join unforeseen alliances with the Ukrainian politicians.

Western interests

Over the last couple of years, the so-called “collective” West looks like being less interested in Ukraine. At the same time, the level of their interest cannot fall below a certain level simply due to the relations with Russia. The decline in West’s interest could be explained by a kind of "stabilization" of Donbas conflict and by some private interests. For example, we remember that the US interest in Ukraine had been exacerbated by the private interests of Joe Biden, former Vice President of the US under Barack Obama.

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But what remains truly unchanged since the time of the Obama administration is the “struggle” against Russia and international terrorism. In a sense that both are only a cover for the real interests of the US and the EU. The struggle with Russia is a good excuse for solving their problems, not even relating to Russia. Formally, the US and the EU are allies, in fact, in the framework of the “struggle against Russia,” they are vividly competing with each other. And Ukraine’s role in all these processes will be significant here. That is why the West is interested in maintaining control over Ukraine and Ukrainian elites.

Of course, there are purely inner western factors. Angela Merkel’s statement she will not lead her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and will not be re-elected as its chairwoman in December might lead to a change in the balance between France and Germany, EU’s key forces. A foreign policy of French president Macron is fairly tough, thus he is trying to fix his failures in domestic politics. And Ukraine might be a good object in the negotiation process. A kind of an asset on which it is better to have a decisive influence.

Related: What does Merkel's exit mean for Ukraine

Private West

News like the one that Angela Merkel probably arrives in Kyiv for “inspection of the prospective bride” to talk to Ukraine’s presidential nominees has long been perceived as something usual. Worshiping the West has become a part of the everyday life of the Ukrainian political elite.

It is interesting that both Petro Poroshenko and Yulia Tymoshenko and other representatives of the pro-Maidan spectrum endeavor to gain the support of the West in conditions when the competition for Ukraine between various Western groups is underway.

First, the need to get support from the West seems to be completely natural.

Related: What does Merkel's exit mean for Ukraine

Secondly, the variant of the “single favored” candidate of the “collective West” is becoming less and less likely. There are too many contradictions within the West itself, and the main presidential nominees take too uncertain positions.

Third, the Ukrainian voter still perceives the West as something homogenous. This means that each contact with Western politicians will be presented to their electorate as a hint of the favor of the West to themselves.

Related: Medvedchuk: I have no relations with Kolomoisky and Tymoshenko

Important accents

The negotiations between Angela Merkel and Ukrainian politicians might play an important role here. The very Merkel’s presence in Kyiv will spur the vigorous actions of her competitors in the western camp.

Another platform for the Euro-Ukrainian negotiations will be November events in France, timed to the centenary of the ending of the First World War. Petro Poroshenko will try to use this platform for his pre-election communication. However, the negotiations of world leaders might have the greatest influence on Ukraine’s future; in particular, the Putin-Trump meeting scheduled for November 11. The parties might discuss the issue of Donbas peacekeepers, a key item of Ukraine’s international agenda. The problems of the Nord Stream 2 will be discussed as well, launching of which influences on the capacity of the Ukrainian GTS and its state budget.

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While politicians of the pro-Maidan spectrum are trying to attract the attention of political and business elites of the West, the Western press publishes interviews with those whom they consider being a truly influential figure in Ukrainian politics – opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk. Despite the fact that a significant part of the article is devoted to quoting of Medvedchuk's critics, the French outlet has made some important accents. Le Monde makes it clear that Medvedchuk’s united opposition project might consolidate up to 30-35% of the electorate. Therefore, Le Monde sends a clear message that balance of power will soon change in Ukraine, explaining that Medvedchuk has joined the For Life party (since 2014 the party leader is Vadym Rabinovych – Ed.), aiming to enter the Verkhovna Rada.

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Le Monde intentionally emphasizes that Medvedchuk has openly defended his position since 2010. By the way, it is not by chance that Medvedchuk’s interview was published at Le Monde on the eve of the visit of the Federal Chancellor to Kyiv. In 2014, Merkel convincingly recommended Poroshenko to appoint Medvedchuk Ukraine’s Trilateral contact group in Minsk representative.

It should be noted that Le Monde is the world’s most reputable French newspaper. This year, it has dedicated only one article to Ukrainian politic. This was an article, criticizing the Ukrainian authorities because of the failure of the fight against corruption.

Therefore, the very fact of publishing an interview with an opposition politician speaks volumes.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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